Review: LG OLED C3 (OLED65C3)

Evolution rather than revolution

LG's most popular OLED TV is back in a new and improved version. At the same time, the price has made an ever so slight jump!

Published 2023-05-23 - 8:00 am
LG OLED C3 (OLED65C3)
Audun Hage

The C series has been a success for LG, and over the generations has been recognised as among the best OLED displays on the market. Last year’s model C2 got a real overhaul in several areas, which helped make it one of the best buys in the premium class. Now, however, it’s the turn of the C3 model, and the question is whether LG can maintain its lead over the competition?

The LG OLED C3 comes in a wide range of screen sizes, from 42 all the way up to 83 inches, and among the new features this year is an upgraded video processor (a9 Gen 6), which should provide even better image processing.

At the same time, we note that the launch price of this year’s model has increased significantly for the 65-inch model). However, LG’s OLED screens tend to come down in price during the TV season. At the time of writing, you can buy last year’s outgoing OLED C2 model for significantly less than what you’ll have to pay for a brand new C3 in May 2023.

LG OLED C3. (Photo: LG)

Design

From an aesthetic point of view, there’s no doubt about the origins of the newcomer: The C3 model has a clean and uncluttered design very similar to its predecessor, with a thin bezel and centre-mounted metal base. Parts of the body are made from recycled plastic, contributing to the lower weight.
The LG monitor is also easy to wall-mount if you have a bracket that fits the 300 x 200 mm VESA dimensions. All connections are easily accessible on the left side.

LG OLED C3 WebOS23 LG OLED C3 thin LG OLED C3 rear
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The LG OLED C3 is very similar in design to its predecessor C2, but now stands straight up instead of leaning back (Photo: Audun Hage)

Ease of use and features

Existing LG owners will also easily recognise the user experience: The C3 features the familiar Magic Remote with a “mouse pointer” that you use to navigate around the menus.

The WebOS 23 user interface has received an update this year, making it easier to view current content that’s streaming right now. As before, you can log in with your own user profile and get customised recommendations. You can quickly pull up a side menu of settings without it covering the whole picture.

The LG screen can also act as a smart home hub, with a dedicated home screen providing an overview of connected devices around the home. LG’s ThinQ smart system supports the Matter protocol and can talk to other IoT devices on the network, such as IKEA Trådfri solar shades, Philips Hue lights and the like.

LG has long been at the forefront of gaming features and connectivity, and the C3 continues in the same vein. All four HDMI 2.1 inputs with up to 48Gb/s bandwidth and capacity for 4K/120Hz video signals. That means you’ve got plenty of inputs for both games consoles and gaming PCs – plus eARC for the soundbar.

The C3 also boasts a dedicated Game bar full of dedicated settings, and a dedicated picture mode for games with support for VRR (Nvidia G-Sync and AMD Freesync). We measured lag at around 13 milliseconds (1080p/60Hz), which is in line with its predecessor.

LG OLED C3 remote LG OLED C3 inputs
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The LG OLED C3 comes with the WebOS23 user interface. The remote control is LG's classic Magic Remote with "mouse pointer" (Photo: Audun Hage)

Image quality

LG is celebrating the 10th anniversary of OLED this year, and is marking it with a new generation of OLED panels with MLA technology. However, this technology is reserved for the top model G3 – which we have already tested.

The scaled-down C3 model has to make do with a more mainstream OLED Evo panel, which was introduced on the C2 model last year. However, it has the latest Alpha 9 Gen. 6, with improved image processing in several areas. The new feature AI Super Upscaling Pro should do a better job of upscaling various video signals to 4K resolution. At the same time, the C3 has OLED Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro, which analyses the image more accurately and ensures optimal HDR rendering.

For starters, the measurements tell us that brightness and contrast performance is about the same as its predecessor. The LG C3 clocks in at 794 nits in a 10% window, which is on par with the C2, which we measured at 760 nits.

As expected, as the measurement windows increase in size, the brightness gradually decreases. It’s clear that the C3 model is more ordinary compared to its big brother the G3, which delivers generally higher brightness in all picture modes.

The more ordinary brightness is not a real problem – as long as you take into account the windows, shades and light sources in the room. And even though there are MiniLED displays out there with far higher brightness – such as the Samsung QN95C we recently tested – the C3 OLED display from LG is adequate for most uses.

LG C3 vs Sony A80L

When we compare the LG C3 with its competitor, the Sony A80L, we can see some small but interesting differences. Both displays have the typical OLED qualities. Black levels are pitch black, without the light leaks that characterise typical LCD screens. Of course, both have very even light distribution, and you can view the screens from the side without much change in colour reproduction.

The C3 model from LG benefits from slightly higher brightness in small areas of the image, where typical HDR effects such as sunlight and flames take on greater intensity and glow.

The Sony A80L, on the other hand, has a slight edge when it comes to overall image sharpness and colour reproduction: While both monitors are high quality, the Sony manages to render the same images with slightly sharper detail and more seamless colour gradations.

Here you simply have to decide whether you prefer the slightly brighter presentation of the LG or the more accurate picture aesthetic of the Sony.

Also check out Ultra-crisp OLED TV from Sony

With stunning picture quality and Sony's vibrant sound system on board, the A80L delivers an excellent TV experience.

Sound quality

The C2 range got a boost on the sound side last year, with more powerful speakers and juicier bass. These have been carried over to the C3 model, which has a nice, clear and rich sound. However, the voice reproduction is a little more “hollow” and less natural sounding than its Sony competitor (A80L). It’s obviously no match for separate sound systems, or monitors with more lavish speakers. We think most people will prefer to connect to a separate soundbar or sound system, which you can easily do through the HDMI eARC connector.

Note! LG has also introduced a new soundbar this year, the SC9S, which can be integrated as part of the base of the TV.

Conclusion

The LG OLED C3 is the heir to the popular test winner C2 from 2022. The LG display has received some small updates that make one of the best TVs in the premium class even better. The C3 delivers excellent picture quality, and with four HDMI 2.1 inputs, this is a forward-thinking and gaming-friendly TV.

Still, this feels more like a facelift rather than a “total makeover”: Unlike its big brother the G3, which has had a noticeable boost in brightness, the C3 is more in line with its predecessor in several areas. At the same time, the price difference at introduction is relatively large.
The C3 has the potential to become as good a buy as the C2 in the long run, but we’ll have to wait until the price settles down a bit.

Karakter
LG OLED C3 (OLED65C3)
Premium

We think

The LG C3 is a full-featured TV with excellent connectivity, wide support for different video formats and a high-contrast OLED picture quality. The image quality is not significantly better than last year's model, and at the same time the price has increased.

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